Advice doesn’t have to agree

A colleague once needed some help with a work-related problem, and she spoke to a large number of people to see how they had tackled similar problems in the past. When I asked afterwards if she found an answer she said the plentiful advice she got didn’t agree… and she was entirely fine with that.

I really admired how my colleague embraced the different views. What she got was many pointers to different ideas. Each person individually offered entirely coherent advice—they said what worked for them. But when she put it all together there was a real mix, with some elements suggesting very different things.

My colleauge realised it’s possible to take different ideas, mix them together, and combine them in new ways, to get something that was right for her. After all, each person offering advice was working in a different context; and she was working in a context that was different again. So what would work for her would also be different again.

This is also a good example of dealing with uncertainty. There was no single right answer, and she didn’t worry about that. Instead she found lots of ideas, and lots of avenues to explore.

Photo by Hernán Piñera